Not blooming! New to hydrangeas!

melanievvvDecember 11, 2012

Hi everyone!

I live in Perth West Australia - it is a mediteranean climate, cool winters and hot summers, mild rain (no frost snow etc). We have just moved into our new house and at the home open there were blooming hydrangeas against a south wall (darker side of the house down here) doing really well and flowering. When we moved in July (winter here obviously) the previous owner had pruned them back very severely to a foot or so high. It has recovered with lots of blood and bone, seaweed liquid fertilizers and lots of water - it doesn't get any direct sunlight here only shade. It hasn't bloomed though, despite lots of lush green foliage at least three foot high. Any ideas on how long to wait for blooms? Do I also have to cut it back next winter like the previous owner did? I am new to gardening so thanks to everyone for reading / responding to this in advance.

Cheers,

Melanie

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Hello from Texas Melanie. Well, pruning or too much fertilizing could have done it.

Hydrangea macrophylla, the one that I am guessing that you have, produces blooms shaped like mopheads or lacecaps. A lot of these Macs will develop flower buds only once, in July-August in my area. The flower buds are invisible at first and will open much later... in April-May here.

So, I think that the owner pruned the plants hard after flower buds had formed so now you are not getting any blooms. Provided that you do not prune again after flower buds formed, the problem should not reoccur next year.

Although old hydrangeas can benefit from some pruning every 7-10 years, pruning is generally not needed if the shrubs are growing in a location where they can reach their mature size. If I need to prune for some reason, I prune here after the plant has bloomed but before July.

Deadheading -not the same as pruning- can be done at any time of the year. See the link below.

Feeding hydrangeas too much nitrogen-rich fertilizer (for example: blood meal, some liquid fertilizers, etc) can make the plants concentrate on growing nice leaves at the expense of blooms. How to tell if the soil has too much nitrogen? Well, luckily, there are plant nurseries that sell low priced soil analyzing kits to determine if the soil has too much nitrogen. You get a test tube, add some soil, a pill that came with the kit and water. Shake, wait a while and the instructions will say what color means what.

I fertilize my hydrangeas with either cottonseed meal, compost or composted manure.. about 1 cup per year in Spring. You can also use a general-purpose slow-release chemical fertilizer (follow the label's directions).

During the growing season, you can also use/sprinkle coffee grounds, liquid seaweed or liquid fish. But all this feeding stops around July in my area in order to make sure that the plants will go dormant when Fall arrives.

Does that help you, Melanie?
Luis

Here is a link that might be useful: Pruning hydrangeas

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 5:00AM
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calistoga_al

You have been given very good information. Every few years the macs will have gotten so overgrown they will need to be cut back pretty drastically. Doing so will sacrifice next years bloom, and I accept that. Here in the Mediterranean climate of the north coast of California, I never need to fertilize, only maintain a regular mulch of vegetative matter. The plant will outgrow its space soon enough and fertilizer will make it sooner. Al

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 10:01AM
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